Video Thursday: Racial Tension Headaches

This week we bring you another humorous look at race relations in the US: [vodpod id=Video.2542712&w=425&h=350&fv=]

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Raising Children Away from Home

White Americans tend to raise children in nuclear families—just parents and kids—but in many cultures and many immigrant groups, extended families are deeply involved. Only One Year, one of our new Spring books, is about a Chinese American family sending their two-year-old boy to live for a year in China, with his grandparents and surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins. In a new BookTalk, author Andrea Cheng talks about the families who inspired her to write this book, as well as cultural differences, siblings, and her own family.

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Perception and Reality

The number of children’s books featuring racial, ethnic, or cultural diversity has not kept pace with the growing diversity of the United States population. Census data from 2008 shows that 34% of the population is minorities. In contrast, the number of children’s books reflecting diversity is about 13% of the books published each year. Since 1994, when the Cooperative Children’s Book Center started to keep statistics of children’s books published by and about people of color, I’ve watched this percentage inch up and down. But there has never been a significant improvement or decline.

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Jason at Multiculturalism Rocks!

Nathalie Mvondo over at Mutliculturalism Rocks! has posted a great interview with our very own publisher (and regular blogwriter) Jason Low!

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This Week in Diversity: Forgotten Shades of Grey

It’s bitterly cold outside (at least here in New York), so stay inside and read! Here’s this week’s selection of articles and essays.

Last month we shared an Indian ad for White Beauty, a skin-lightening cream. Now, a study is highlighting the dangers of these types of products, many of which contain steroids or mercury. A NYTimes Op-Ed looks beyond the products and into the roots of their popularity with an exploration of colorism, the tendency to be biased towards people with lighter skin, even within one’s own racial or ethnic group.

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Video Thursday: Iranian in America

It’s a couple years old (Bush was president, remember those years?), but Iranian American comedian Maz Jobrani still hits several nails on the head when talking about being Middle Eastern in America:

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The problem of rating books

There’s an interesting discussion going on over at January Magazine this week about whether we should establish a ratings system for books. The blogger over there, Tony, read an upcoming YA book billed for ages 14 and up. But some 70 pages in, Tony discovered content that he felt was a little, um, mature for the average 14-year-old reader:

“14 and up, I thought. 14 and up? 14 and up?! To me, ’14 and up’ is just another way of saying PG-13. . . . As the father of boys aged 13 and 9, who both love to read, I am now officially worried. Is this the stuff of books for Young Readers? For 14 and up?”

In the professional world of books, made up of librarians and publishers and booksellers, any complaint about the appropriateness of content tends to illicit a knee-jerk reaction and cry of censorship. And, frankly, when people are removing dictionaries from schools because they contain definitions of words that parents deem inappropriate, it’s not hard to see why. But Tony has a sensible argument: Shouldn’t there at least be some sort of rating so readers know what they are getting themselves into?

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Hudson (Frozen) River

frozen Hudson River
frozen Hudson River

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Announcing the 2009 New Voices Award Honor winner!

Lee & Low books New Voices Award Honor sealThis fall, we read over 100 picture book manuscripts submitted to the New Voices Award, our annual contest for unpublished writers of color. Thank you to everyone who submitted, and congratulations to Tiare Williams Solorzano, winner of this year’s New Voices Award Honor!

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Video Thursday: The Promised Land

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Gregory Brothers created a musical remix of his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, delivered the night before his assassination in April 1968.

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Exploring Children's Books Through the Lens of Diversity